theoldmortuary has been a blog for about five years. It has evolved into an almost daily event. Pondering on the things that are inspired by my daily life. Often mundane, sometimes repetitive I swerve from hyperlocal activity to big and small thoughts without blinking an eye. I am an artist and writer. My hometown is Plymouth in South West England, part of me will always be connected to London and another part loves to travel.
City walks in January need plenty of stop offs. The last time I was in this glorious Tom Dixon interiors shop was in February 2020. I was feeling as ill as it is possible to feel and still be more or less functioning. In reality I very probably had Covid and could barely appreciate the joy of his designs or the fragrances of his beautiful candles. Three years have passed and my personal score of Covid( before testing) Novid ( – test, all the symptoms) Covid (+test minimal symptoms) My pleasure in the visual remains high, but sadly the pleasures of fragrances have all but left me.
The barge, glimpsed through the window says it all. So much has been lost by so many over those three years my sense of smell is a small loss to bare. A January afternoon in the Tom Dixon store is such a feast for the eyes I barely missed the fragrances.
Our day started, as it went on, doing entirely normal things in unusual locations. A visit to our favourite bakery seemed very standard until I decided to use the loo. Only to discover that it was in the strong room, the bakery was in a former bank.
Unfortunately the name of the Strong Room could also be considered a judgement of my years of expertise in enjoying bakery products. No such judgement on the next stop.
Be-oom a Korean tea shop whose outdoor space was very unexpected.
I was particularly thrilled by the nearby what3words location.
After the tea, this silver author wished for somewhere cosy to relax after my rose petal infusion. There was no relaxation, though, in a day of long city walks. The last of the normal things in unusual spaces was a book shop on a canal.
And just to bring this unusual blog to a close is a clever door stop.
The love-child of Zephyrus and Nortus gave us a good old going over last night. Not that I knew that at the time. I have been researching the blowing faces that are sometimes seen on old maritime maps. Mistakenly I thought they were cherubs, they are in fact wind Gods although many look a good bit like a cherub probably because they are blowing as hard as a trombonist.
I have a plan to create a painting that is a mash up of an old nautical chart and a Google map. My wind will be the lesser God of the South West Wind. Inconveniently the South West Wind is not the love-child of Zephyrus/ Favonius, the West wind and Notus/ Auster the South wind. The God of the South wind is Lips/ Africus. His parents are assumed to be Astraios and Eos. He is a winged man holding the stern of a ship and if last night is a sign of his strength he is capable of a good old blow. Drawing him is going to be blast, in my picture he will be holding the peninsular of Stonehouse. Currently he is just superimposed on an old painting of a stormy sea. And that my friends is the wind-God, rabbit-hole I have been down today after a windy and sometimes sleepless night at home.
Yesterday was a surprise in many ways. Most significantly it did not rain anything like as much as predicted. Impending wet weather gave the morning a sepia tinge. My working day at the local museum was somewhat dull, many of the exhibition spaces are in a state of flux with old exhibitions coming down ready for a change. In consequence there were not many visitors. The Museum offers excellent facilities for family history research. So on a whim I sat down and had a dabble at a family tree.
The minute I started to achieve relative success the day began to feel even more sepia as old documents flashed up before my eyes. In honesty I don’t really know what I am doing, so half an hour of success had fished out more than enough information for a first day.
I had dabbled with a family tree once before and found an unknown, but close, relative had done a huge amount of research which was available on-line. I was impressed and wrote via the website to add myself to his family tree. While I had no expectation of a grand reunion so beloved of the media. I had thought that when doing a genetic jigsaw every little piece has some value. Not so in this case,he clearly preferred his relatives to be dead and historic, not current and breathing. No thank you email ever found its way to me. My brief foray yesterday did not uncover his precious resource so perhaps it has been removed to keep live people out of his way. He may also no longer subscribe… Who could guess?
The lack of visitors did not cut down on my talking at the museum. What I lacked in numbers I made up for with two exceedingly long interactions. One was with a very inebriated man who’s intensity of conversation took many intriguing twists and turns to unexpected places. The other was with a regular visitor who talks in ever expanding circles that then with no warning snaps back to the exact same point that he started at, many, many minutes before. Sometimes it is fascinating to be included in another, unknown persons mindscape without any responsibility or limited timeframe. Maybe a little like reading an unknown persons blog.
Some days not much happens, here is clip to show how the header artwork was created.
December and the build up to Christmas has a smooth-curve build up to the festive season. I have no time or interest in creating jeopardy into the mix. We don’t go in for ‘perfect’, our tradition has flexibility built -in, to allow the joy of serendipity to play a part. I really dislike it when someone enquires if I am ready for Christmas. I know that that question only requires an answer that suggests I am in a state of anxiety or stress. The answer ” Everything is at the stage it should be at this point of the month” is usually truthful, not smug, just reassuring. That answer,or a version of it, seems to disappoint somewhat and sometimes gets a response like “Oh well you are a well organised woman”. This sounds complimentary but often has so many hidden little barbs in it, I am in no doubt that it is a weaponised statement punishing me for not having enough festive drama in my life.
The build up to a ‘good enough’ Christmas is like that, no drama, no unrealistic expectation, just friends and family gathering together in the darkest part of the year ( Northern Hemisphere) to bring happiness to one another.
The decorations are put away in the Sandalwood Chest and our tree is off on an adventure as a beach stabiliser. Another ‘ Good Enough’* Festive season tidied away.
* Good Enough,was, of course, fabulous. Who really needs drama or perfection in the darkest month of the year.
The sun was up yesterday and I was in Wembury. My feet must have sensed this and were reluctant to wear socks. It was a dog grooming day so I had the beach to myself while the fluffs were being pampered. The last time I was here was in the midst of a really cold snap of weather, the overnight frost had stayed well past noon. Socks were definitely needed. Yesterday walking the coastal path was a bit unpleasant with cold toes but wandering bare foot on the beach was not so bad at all.
Usually, at Wembury, there is a splendid cafe almost on the beach but January is the time small businesses take a break. There was nowhere to warm up, once my toes had decided that being liberated from shoes and socks, and paddling in a river and the sea was not the smartest move in the long term.
The actual plan for the morning was to finish my book club book which required all my concentration just to keep a grip on the characters. With my feet wrapped in a blanket I stepped into the warm but hazardous world of Cyprus in 1974.
With my reading mission accomplished, I collected two clean and fragrant dogs from the groomers and returned to the real world of January life. I am not a fan of January. Like the back end of the beach, it is strewn with unremarkable stuff that probably needs clearing up.
Early morning and no rain! Monday shows promise. Yesterday was a proper drencher, probably due to my own bad planning. On a positive the rain chased me into a newish coffee destination near home. Block in the Royal William Yard.
Loads of lovely texture to enjoy while drying out and enjoying a plain chocolate, hot chocolate. The dogs and my feet dried out ready to carry on walking, swamp foot avoided for another day.
Backtracking slightly to an earlier blog of this week. My Sunday ponder tackles the subject of procrastination again.
Sometimes while procrastinating I watch videos on art techniques, I am fascinated by the Japanese art of Kintsugi. Where broken porcelain is repaired, the repair is enhanced with gold.
I find the whole process mesmerising but am both self aware enough to know that I don’t have enough broken china in my life or the the tolerance for this meticulous craft. But knowledge can always be adapted.
This Christmas I was gifted a female torso vase. She had rather pneumatic breasts, if she were real I think she would almost certainly have ‘had some work done’
For some time I have felt the urge to depict the curious sensation of swimming in really cold water with a shortie wetsuit on.
Pneumatic Nancy is now officially a bobbing woman. Modified Kintsugi shows exactly the sensation of water finding it’s way into the openings of a wetsuit and then rivuleting over mounds and crevasses as it streams downwards. To be completely accurate the gilding should be done in ice cold silver. A project for another day, and another torso.
Procrastination creates gaps where serendipity can flourish.
Morning dog walks are full of unexpected surprises. Sometimes when we stop for the ritual of the poo, I stare into nothing for the time it takes to sniff out the exact spot, spin to geolocate and then eliminate. Yesterday there was a bright flash of blue. Not an urban Kingfisher but some lovely old wrought iron, showing it’s provenance, over 200 years of being weather beaten. Two dogs equals two stops,the second one on a beach where this tiny piece of old tile was my gem of the moment.
My day was all about tiny gems, the studio needs to be de-Christmassed. It has remnants of twinkle from pre-Christmas gilding left on the work bench.
Having cleared that up I was left with a pristine surface to work on, almost as delicious as clean bedding, I decided to take some time out from tidying and give a new sketch book and latex tools a little try out.
The exhibitions of last year inspired me to explore some different aspects of drawing, painting and printing. The one genre that can be fitted into a small box and just an hour or so of time is charcoal sketching. My new sketchbook is going to be dedicated to drawing in charcoal with a bit of water colour thrown in.